My husband’s Williams family has intrigued me for decades. I even self-published a 150 page book about the various lines of Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams, who lived in Cumberland County, Virginia in the 1700’s.
However, there is one small branch of the tree that has frustrated me for years. Charles Williams, grandson of Thomas Williams of Cumberland County, VA, had several children, one of which was a son named Reuben.
Reuben Williams was born about 1798, probably in Wythe County, VA, as the family was heading west to Tennessee. His father appears in the county court records to prove a marriage record during that time. Reuben married Mahuldah Cobb, sister of Asa Cobb, in Roane County, Tennessee on 7 December 1819. Reuben died by October 1835, probably in Roane County. By that time, he and Mahuldah had had six children, Joseph Miller Williams, Asa Cobb Williams, Robert T. Williams, Deborah R. Williams, Reuben Williams and Francis (male) Williams.
In 1840, a court record mentioned that they were all minors; Mahuldah had apparently taken the children and moved to Franklin County, Alabama with some of her own relatives and her brother, Asa Cobb, was guardian to the children.
By March 1844, Reuben and Francis had both died. The four remaining heirs of Reuben Williams were again named. On 24 October 1850, Deborah R. Williams (apparently unmarried at this time), living in Franklin County, Alabama, filed a deed of sale for her portion of the inheritance from her father’s estate in Roane County, Tennessee.
The Franklin County courthouse burned in 1890 with major loss of records.
No member of this Williams family has been identified in any census records in Tennessee, Alabama or Mississippi. They all seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. I have even read the 1850 Franklin County census page by page in case they were missed in the indexing.
I wrote about the missing Asa Cobb in the 1850 census of Franklin County, Alabama. While he appeared in the slave schedule, the census taker apparently forgot to enumerate the family in the population schedule. However, Alabama took a state census in 1850 and Asa appears there. The down side is that only the head of household is named with other family members grouped by age and sex.
Alabama either didn’t take a non-population census that year or else it has been lost to time. By 1860, Asa Cobb had moved to Coahoma County, Mississippi. It also appears that Mississippi either took no non-population census in 1860 or else it, too, has been lost to time.
However, there was another Cobb, Azariah, enumerated in the 1850 state census and he lived only two doors from Asa Cobb. I believe Azariah might be a younger brother of Asa and Mahuldah. He was born about 1807 in Tennessee. He married Julia Colvitt in 1831 in Lawrence County, Alabama and they named their son born about 1853 “Asa.”
Like Asa, Azariah was well-to-do and the owner of a large plantation. He appears in the 1860 regular and non-population schedules of Franklin County, Alabama:
In the standard census, Aziah is a farmer with real estate valued at $32,000 and personal estate valued at $23,000.
The schedule included 48 questions, but I will include only the ones for which something was entered for Aziah:
1. Land Owner – Aziah Cobb
2. Acres of improved land – 600
3. Acres of unimproved land – 358
4. Cash value of farm – $32,000
5. Value of farming implements and machinery – $600
6. Horses – 1
7. Asses and mules – 6
8. “Milch” cows – 8
10. Other cattle – 4
11. Sheep – 50
12. Swine – 80
13. Value of livestock – $2000
16. Bushels of Indian corn – 3000
17. Bushels of oats – 200
20. Ginned cotton, bales of 400 lbs. each – 59
21. Lbs. of wool – 80
22. Bushels of peas and beans – 30
23. Bushels of Irish potatoes – 50
30. Lbs. of butter – 75
47. Value of homemade manufactures – $150
48. Value of animals slaughtered – $550
Aziah was more than prosperous, with good sized crops of corn and oats grown on 1,000 acres of land. It is likely that if Asa also appeared on this schedule, his crops would have been similar.
Perhaps all of these small puzzle pieces will come together one day to reveal what happened to Mahuldah Cobb Williams and her children.